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Mar. Tharayil, an Indian prelate, yet to shed the feudal veil

By Mr.Johny Chengalan

The latest Facebook post of Mar Thomas Tharayil( post 20th September 2022) once again proves that he is an authoritarian prelate in the mould of the feudal lords of the medieval Dark Age. He definitely has an uncanny knack for courting controversies with the intent to be the cynosure of all eyes. In such posts, his usual style is to project a certain ideology and target a specific group. His adversaries are the priests and the faithful of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese. He holds an immense grudge against Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese because it is the sole bulwark against the onslaught of Chaldean ideology, the Waterloo of Chaldean traditions. Since the post throws up several arguments, each of which needs to be challenged and refuted, it is necessary to give an English rendition of his Fb post before proceeding to expose the hollowness of his arguments.

“The Catholic Church can learn from the Kerala (Syro-Malabar Church) the vital lesson that liturgy is to be decided upon by employing force. Threatening the bishops, organizing sit-in demonstrations (I do not wish to use the term Satyagraha, although he uses it) in front of bishoprics at midnight, isolating bishops so as to destroy their self-esteem, publishing unilateral (read prejudiced!) news items by exerting evil influence on the media, glorifying the exasperated bishop who succumbs to their pressure tactics - these are not the works that people with a conscience do. The liturgy of no Church has been implemented after taking the consent of the common folk. Vatican II taught that no bishop has the right or freedom to alter the liturgy handed down by the Apostolic Church. We must look with utmost reverence at the liturgy handed down by the Apostles. When the Eucharist versus Populum (Celebrant facing the congregation of worshippers) was introduced in the Church, was the opinion of the common people sought? When the ‘Bharatiya Pooja” was experimented with in some places in India, was the opinion of the common people taken into consideration? No. So then, why do you tell us that you must offer the Eucharist in the way we want it? One’s false sense of pride must triumph, that is all. The Church has clearly defined the role of the Pope, the bishops, the priests and the laity in it. So long as there is no human right violation, it is met that everyone carries out the duty assigned to each office.”

The first statement is absolutely true because in no other Church one sees the kind of obstinacy as depicted by the Syro-Malabar Synod. So if using force is contrary to the Church’s tradition, why does the Syro-Malabar Synod expend its energy in trying to enforce uniformity in worship? The Church has no history of using force in the implementation of liturgy because it allowed the liturgy to evolve. Who has threatened the bishops? Are you referring to the episodes of the laity of Ernakulam Angamaly Diocese arriving in batches and expressing their desire for the Eucharist versus Populum in front of Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazath, the Apostolic Administrator, who has always projected himself as the iron man? Before such episodes took place, didn’t the Cardinal celebrate the Eucharist in the Basilica with a show of force, accompanied by the police force and his henchmen? Didn’t the Apostolic Nuncio force Mar Antony Kariyil to resign? Didn’t Mar Thazath exert force on Mar Kariyil to retract his open letter? So who colluded with the state machinery to carry out his designs? The mammoth rally on August 7 was simply an outburst of exasperation by the laity, the priests and religious as the last resort against a concerted move to impose the Chaldean ideology on the unwilling flock of Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese. If pro Eucharist versus Populum demonstrations are condemnable as instances of a show of force, what about the flop on “Eucharist ad orientem” demonstrations organized by the Chaldean lobby? Wasn’t your present boss the leader of the demonstration against the Papal Delegate, Mar Abraham Kattumana and for which he was suitably rewarded by the patron of Chaldean orthodoxy in Kerala?

Who has exerted more negative influence on the media, the Chaldean lobby or the faithful of Ernakulam Angamaly Archdiocese? Circulars are issued in the Pope’s name and they make headlines in newspapers and the audio-visual media if they parrot Chaldean ideology, while the mammoth rally on 7th August, 2022, had little media coverage. We will continue to glorify our amiable Mar Antony Kariyil as we see in him a true shepherd. He did not wish to cling to his office by betraying the flock of Ernakulam. He did not mind sending his papers to the Vatican in order to justify his stand in favour of the Eucharist versus Populum. On the other hand, the Syro-Malabar Synod is dominated by bishops who would go to any lengths to protect their office even at the expense of betraying their conscience! In the end who have surrendered their consciences to the devil

“The liturgy in no Church has been implemented after obtaining the consent of the common folk.” Liturgy is a matter affecting every member of the Church. What is wrong if the opinions of the laity on the matter are considered? Mar Tharayil’s statement simply negates the entire concept of synodality as visualized by Pope Francis. The next statement again contradicts the history of the evolution of liturgy. Who can prove that the Eucharist we celebrate today is an exact replica of the Eucharist celebrated by the Apostles. The Church is not an outdated monolith opposed to all kinds of change; it is a constantly evolving institution. A lot of changes have occurred in the Church post the Second Vatican Council. Even the mode of celebration of liturgy underwent noticeable changes. In the Syro-Malabar Church, only Archbishop Joseph Powathil resisted the changes advocated by Vatican II. Unfortunately, he is projected as a model by the Chaldean lobby which added an inglorious feather to his orthodox cap recently by instituting an award named Powrasthyaratnam - the gem of the East. Time will tell whether he is a gem or otherwise.

If in the past the Church remained synonymous with the Synod of Bishops and all decisions concerning liturgical changes were taken unilaterally by it, should the same be continued in the name of tradition? Mar Tharayil thinks so and thereby confirms my first statement that he is a prelate yet to shed the feudal veil.

Are the faithful in Ernakulam Angamaly standing up for a cause out of false pride? Aren’t they convinced of what they are standing up for? My dear Mar Tharayil, we are proud of the fact that we are not sheepish like the mute flock of your Archdiocese. We will continue to espouse causes we know to be right, now and in future.

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